Famous German Sociologists

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Find out more about the greatest German Sociologists, including Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Engels, Jürgen Habermas and Theodor W. Adorno.
Vote for Your Favourite German Sociologists
 1 
Max Weber
(Sociologist)
Max Weber
8
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erfurt, Germany
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

 2 
Jürgen Habermas
(German Philosopher and Sociologist Best Known for His Theory of ‘Communicative Action')
Jürgen Habermas
6
Birthdate: June 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Rhine Province, Prussia, Germany

German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas is counted among the most influential philosophers across the world and is identified with the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He influenced many disciplines through his work which addresses communicative rationality and the public sphere, and includes topics starting from social-political theory to aesthetics, language to philosophy of religion, and epistemology.

 3 
Georg Simmel
(One of the First Generation of German Sociologists and Neo-Kantian Philosopher)
Georg Simmel
4
Birthdate: March 1, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 26, 1918

Georg Simmel was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic considered a forerunner to structuralist styles of reasoning in the social sciences. He was neo-Kantian in his approach and laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism. He broadly rejected academic standards and wrote extensively on the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He was married to philosopher Gertrud Kinel and had one son. 

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 4 
Karl Marx
(Philosopher & Economist - Famous for His Theory of 'Marxism' )
Karl Marx
2
Birthdate: May 5, 1818
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trier, Germany
Died: March 14, 1883

Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist, political theorist and socialist revolutionary, is best-known for the 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital. His theories, called Marxism, maintained that class conflict leads to the development of human societies and that internal tension were inherent in capitalism, which would ultimately be replaced by the socialist mode of production.

 5 
Herbert Marcuse
(Philosopher and Sociologist His Best-Known Works are "Eros and Civilization" (1955) and "One-Dimensional Man.")
Herbert Marcuse
4
Birthdate: July 19, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: July 29, 1979

The proponent of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, Herbert Marcuse largely influenced the leftist student revolts of the 1960s. Equipped with a PhD in German literature, he wrote Hegel’s Ontology and the Theory of Historicity, with Martin Heidegger. His Eros and Civilization spoke at length about capitalism.

 6 
Erich Fromm
(German Social Psychologist and Psychoanalyst & One of the Founders of The 'William Alanson White Institute')
Erich Fromm
6
Birthdate: March 23, 1900
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 18, 1980

Erich Fromm was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, and socialist. A German Jew, he fled the Nazi regime and settled in the United States. He was a co-founder of  The William Alanson White Institute and was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. He is best remembered for authoring the book Escape from Freedom.

 7 
Ferdinand Tönnies
(One of the Founding Fathers of Classical German Sociology)
Ferdinand Tönnies
3
Birthdate: July 26, 1855
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oldenswort, Germany
Died: April 9, 1936

Ferdinand Tönnies was a German economist, sociologist, and philosopher. He is credited with co-founding the German Society for Sociology where he served as the president from 1909 to 1933. Widely regarded as the first prominent German sociologist, Tönnies contributed significantly to field studies and sociological theory. Ferdinand Tönnies is often counted among the founders of classical German sociology. 

 8 
Max Horkheimer
(German Philosopher and Sociologist Famous for His Work in 'Critical Theory')
Max Horkheimer
3
Birthdate: February 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, Germany
Died: July 7, 1973

Max Horkheimer was a German philosopher and sociologist. He is best known for his work in critical theory as a member of the Frankfurt School of social research. He addressed authoritarianism, economic disruption, militarism, and environmental crisis in his works. He had a successful academic career and remained an influential figure until his death. He was married to Rose Riekher.  

 9 
Niklas Luhmann
(German Sociologist and Philosopher Famous for His Extensive Use of the ‘Slip Box’ or 'Zettelkasten' Note-Taking Method)
Niklas Luhmann
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1927
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lüneburg, Germany
Died: November 6, 1998

Niklas Luhmann was a German sociologist and philosopher of social science. He was also a prominent thinker in systems theory. Considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century, he was best known for his debate with the critical theorist Jürgen Habermas over the potential of social systems theory. He wrote or co-wrote hundreds of books. 

 10 
Rudi Dutschke
(Former Sociologist, political activist known for Spokesperson of the German student movement)
Rudi Dutschke
5
Birthdate: March 7, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Schönefeld, Nuthe-Urstromtal, Germany
Died: December 24, 1979

Rudi Dutschke was a German sociologist and political activist. He was a leading figure within the West German Socialist Students Union (SDS). He was also involved with the Federal Republic's broader “extra-parliamentary opposition” (APO). He supported a world-wide socialist revolution. He was brutally attacked by an assassin in 1968 and struggled with his injuries for years before dying in 1979. 

 11 
Wilhelm Dilthey
(Philosopher Known for the Way He Distinguished Between the Natural and Human Sciences)
Wilhelm Dilthey
3
Birthdate: November 19, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biebrich, Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: October 1, 1911

Wilhelm Dilthey was a German psychologist, sociologist, historian, and hermeneutic philosopher. An ardent admirer of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dilthey helped revive the former's works on hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey is also credited with teaching future philosophers like Hans Lipps, Eduard Spranger, and Theodor Litt.

 12 
Ulrich Beck
(German Sociologist and One of the Most Cited Social Scientists in the World During His Lifetime)
Ulrich Beck
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Slupsk, Poland
Died: January 1, 2015

Ulrich Beck was a German sociologist whose work focused on questions of uncertainty, ignorance, and uncontrollability in the modern age. One of the most cited sociologists during his lifetime, Beck is credited with coining the terms second modernity and risk society. Over the course of his career, Ulrich Beck was honored with many prestigious awards like the Schader Prize.

 13 
Ralf Dahrendorf
(Former European Commissioner for Trade (1970 - 1973))
Ralf Dahrendorf
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: June 17, 2009

Ralf Dahrendorf was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, and political scientist. As a class conflict theorist, he was a leading expert on analyzing class divisions in modern society. He was the author of multiple articles and books, including Class Conflict in Industrial Society (1959). He served as a professor of sociology in several universities in Germany and the UK.  

 14 
Norbert Elias
(German Sociologist Famous for His Theory of Civilizing/Decivilizing Processes)
Norbert Elias
2
Birthdate: June 22, 1897
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: August 1, 1990

Norbert Elias was a German-British sociologist. He is best known for his theory of civilizing/decivilizing processes. He studied philosophy, psychology, and medicine at the University of Breslau and was deeply involved in the German Zionist movement. He later moved to the United Kingdom where he pursued an academic career. He wrote prolifically following his retirement. 

 15 
Alfred Weber
(Economist, Educationist, Sociologist, University teacher)
Alfred Weber
3
Birthdate: July 30, 1868
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Erfurt
Died: May 2, 1958

Alfred Weber was a German geographer, sociologist, economist, and theoretician of culture. Weber's work and contribution played a key role in the progression of modern economic geography. The younger brother of Max Weber, Alfred Weber contributed theories for analyzing social processes, social change as a confluence of civilization, and culture.

 16 
Andre Gunder Frank
(Sociologist, economic historian known for contributions to world-systems theory)
Andre Gunder Frank
2
Birthdate: February 24, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: April 23, 2005

Andre Gunder Frank was a German-American economic historian and sociologist who advocated dependency theory and world-systems theory. In the 1950s and 1960s, Frank taught subjects, such as economics and anthropology at several American universities. He then went on to serve as a professor at the University of Chile. From 1981 to 1994, he taught at the University of Amsterdam.

 17 
Werner Sombart
(German Economist and Sociologist Known for Coining the Term ‘Late Capitalism')
Werner Sombart
2
Birthdate: January 19, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ermsleben, Falkenstein, Germany
Died: May 18, 1941

Werner Sombart was a German sociologist and economist. He was one of the 20th century's most important Continental European social scientists who served as the leader of the Youngest Historical School. Werner Sombart is credited with coining the phrase late capitalism. He is also remembered for his magnum opus, Der moderne Kapitalismus.

 18 
Siegfried Kracauer
2
Birthdate: February 8, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: November 26, 1966
 19 
Esther Vilar
(Writer)
Esther Vilar
4
Birthdate: September 16, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Born to German-Jewish immigrants in Argentina, Esther Vilar studied medicine before she moved to Germany to study psychology and sociology. After taking up scores of odd jobs, she soared to international fame with her bestselling book The Manipulated Man, which argues that women aren’t oppressed but control men in relationships.

 20 
Robert Michels
(Sociologist)
Robert Michels
2
Birthdate: January 9, 1876
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: May 3, 1936
 21 
Theodor Geiger
(Professor)
Theodor Geiger
1
Birthdate: November 9, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: June 16, 1952
 22 
Ernst Troeltsch
(Politician, Theologian, University teacher, Sociologist)
Ernst Troeltsch
1
Birthdate: February 17, 1865
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Augsburg-Haunstetten
Died: February 1, 1923

Ernst Troeltsch was one of the first German theologians to insist that the Christian church should reconsider its version of absolute truth. The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches remains his best-known work. The son of a physician, he was skeptical of religious absolutism from the very beginning.

 23 
Louis Wirth
(Sociologist)
Louis Wirth
2
Birthdate: August 28, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gemünden, Germany
Died: May 3, 1952
 24 
Franz Oppenheimer
(Sociologist)
Franz Oppenheimer
1
Birthdate: March 30, 1864
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 30, 1943
 25 
Arnold Gehlen
(German Sociologist, Philosopher, and Anthropologist)
Arnold Gehlen
1
Birthdate: January 29, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: January 30, 1976

Arnold Gehlen was a German sociologist, philosopher, and anthropologist. He is credited with influencing numerous contemporary German thinkers like Peter L. Berger, Niklas Luhmann, and Hans Blumenberg. Arnold Gehlen also served as a teacher in prestigious institutions like the University of Vienna and the University of Königsberg.

 26 
Marianne Weber
(Sociologist)
Marianne Weber
3
Birthdate: August 2, 1870
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oerlinghausen, Germany
Died: March 12, 1954
 27 
Thomas Luckmann
(Sociologist who co-author The Social Construction of Reality)
Thomas Luckmann
0
Birthdate: October 14, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jesenice, Slovenia
Died: May 10, 2016
 28 
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
1
Birthdate: September 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Freudenberg, Germany
Died: July 5, 2014
 29 
Friedrich Albert Lange
1
Birthdate: September 28, 1828
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Solingen, Germany
Died: November 23, 1875
 30 
Helmuth Plessner
(German Sociologist and Philosopher)
Helmuth Plessner
1
Birthdate: September 4, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany
Died: June 12, 1985

Helmuth Plessner was a German sociologist and philosopher. He was an ardent supporter of philosophical anthropology, which deals with questions of phenomenology and metaphysics of humans. From 1953 to 1959, Helmuth Plessner served as the chairman of The German Sociological Association.

 31 
Carl Grünberg
(Philosopher)
Carl Grünberg
1
Birthdate: February 10, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Focșani, Romania
Died: February 2, 1940

Carl Grünberg was a German Marxist philosopher of law and history. He studied law in Strasbourg and practiced as an advocate. He then proceeded to study political economy in Vienna and eventually became an academic reader. He was one of the founders of Austromarxism. He became the director of the Institute for Social Research in 1924. 

 32 
Albert Schäffle
(Sociologist)
Albert Schäffle
0
Birthdate: February 24, 1831
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nürtingen, Germany
Died: December 25, 1903
 33 
Paul Barth
(Writer)
Paul Barth
0
Birthdate: August 1, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Olesnica, Poland
Died: September 30, 1922